|(Photo © John Clet Jones Greater West Images)|
Five million people can't be wrong. There's a reason the Grand Canyon jams up with this many visitors each yearit's one of the world's most beautiful sights. Stretching 10 miles across and more than a mile deep, the Canyon leaves even experienced adventurers humbled, whether the visit is their first or their fifth.
It's tempting to just gaze at the morning and late-afternoon sunlight glancing off the canyon walls. After all, lodges on both rims make it easy to do so. But the crowds can detract from the experience. To avoid the crush, strap on your backpack and trek down into the hole. Walking from rim to bottom, you'll experience the same change in climate and vegetation as you would walking from Canada to Mexico. Or set up camp on the less-crowded North Rim (which gets too much snow to stay open in winter). Check out the Kaibab National Forest. Or hop in a raft and spend some time cruising the Colorado.
Then hop in your car and expand the circle. Kaibab National Forest features tons of wildlife and hiking trails. Farther afield is Glen Canyon and Lake Powell as well as Lake Mead, the centerpieces of waterborne activity in the area. Explore the lakes in a boat or hike the millions of acres that surround them.
You can put yourself up in Flagstaff, Page, or even Las Vegas, but it's best to get up close and personal with this natural wonder: Stay in the park itself, right on one of the rims. In the early morning and late afternoon, you'll catch this gigantic hole at its finest.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication